Yes, I know that’s a little over the top. By the time I’d finished the last one the first ones would have gone off a long time ago. Much as I love baking, even I would have got sick of it if I had to bake a thousand pies.
Yesterday was an amazing day for me on the blog. Not only was it the best day ever in terms of views and likes, it was also the day I got my “1000 Likes” badge from WordPress. On top of all that, some amazing person bought my book! Yes, another sale. It got me thinking about what being a writer means. Or at least means to me. It’s not just about publishing a book. Maybe the “hygge” craze is dying out a little and not many people want to read about a cosy Danish island, lots of cake and a love affair between an older woman and younger man. Older is relative, she’s in her early thirties.
But every day, I send something out into the world. Incredible people read it and some of them are kind enough to leave me a like or a comment. That’s what it’s about. Writing something that people enjoy enough to react to. I have that. And every day I am grateful for that, because with every like, every comment, I become more and more confident in my own abilities as a writer. So thank you so much, all of you who help me every day. I’m only sorry I can’t send you all a pie, or at least cut you a slice.
This is my father’s favourite dessert. I make it for him as often as I can. When he loses his appetite and nothing tastes right, I know he will always eat this. If baking a thousand pies would make him well again, I wouldn’t even hesitate before reaching for the mixing bowl.
It takes a while to make and there’s a lot to clean up afterwards, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
You will need:
- 175g plain flour
- 100g butter cut in small pieces
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk (save the white for the meringue)
- 3 – 4 tbsp of water
- 2 level tbsp cornflour
- 100g golden caster sugar
- finely grated zest 1 medium lemon
- juice from 2 lemons
- juice from 1 orange
- 85g butter cut into pieces
- 3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg beaten together (save the whites for the meringues)
- 4 egg whites
- 200g golden caster sugar
You can make the pastry a day in advance. If not, set aside at least 1 – 1.5 hours for it to chill before baking.
Crumble the butter, flour and sugar together. Work in the egg yolk (save the white for the meringue and the water. Tip it onto a lightly floured surface and work until you have a nice, smooth dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin and line a pie dish or flan tin. Press the pastry into the flutes so you get the nicely shaped edges and there’s something to hold in the filling. If you’re not great with a rolling pin or just don’t have one, flatten little pieces of pastry with your hands and put them in the dish like a jigsaw puzzle. If it cracks, just stick back together. Prick it with a fork a few times, line with tin foil (shiny side down) and leave it to chill. You can chill, too.
When you’re ready for the next part, heat the oven to 200C. Bake the pastry blind (leave the foil on and fill it with something to keep it down – coffee beans are good and if you’re really desperate you can use rice) for about 12 minutes (Wonder Oven also lives at my parents’ house). Remove the foil and bake for another 5 – 8 minutes until it starts to turn golden. It will go back in again later so you don’t need to think that it needs to be completely done this time around.
Now for the filling. Get everything ready first, because once you start heating the mixture you don’t want to stop to get butter or separate eggs.
In a medium saucepan, mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest. Gradually stir in the lemon juice. Mix the orange juice with water so you end up with 200ml in total. Add it to the mixture. Cook over a medium heat and don’t stop stirring. It will gradually start to thicken, but don’t worry if it still seems thin. It will thicken as you go. Once it bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until it’s melted. Add the egg mixture, stir well and return to the heat. Keep stirring vigorously, after a few minutes it will start to thicken. It will plop from the spoon and might bubble, but won’t curdle. Remove from the heat and make the meringue.
I use my never-fail meringues for this part, just increase the recipe.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. If you can hold the bowl over your head without anything moving, you’re done. If not, clean yourself up, get some more eggs and start again. Add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
If it’s gone cold, heat up the filling again and pour it into the pastry case. Pile the meringue on top but start from the edges, not the middle. Make sure it covers the pastry, spread it around and pile the rest in the middle.
Bake for around 10 minutes (Wonder Oven again) until the meringue begins to go golden.
Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes – 1 hour and serve. If you can’t finish it all at once, it will keep in the fridge.